How Not To Hunt A Bear

´╗┐How Not To Hunt A Bear

This true story has been told by my husband over and over again at many family functions and to friends. I wanted to share this with others who may enjoy a good bear hunt, so with his help I have put this hunt to words. I also realize that this is not the way to hunt a bear !

The great outdoors and hunting have been my passion since I was a small boy. I counted the days to my sixteenth birthday when I was old enough to get my first official hunting license. I had been taught by my father the dos and do nots of hunting along with many scouting merit badges on the subject of survival. I also grew up thinking I was invincible. I have hunted most animals native to the states of Utah and Montana. I cannot remember ever missing a hunting or fishing season in my lifetime.

With that said, I would like to tell you about a hunt I experienced about 20 years ago when I still thought I was invincible. As you will see as this story unfolds, every bit of logic, and anything I had ever been taught was suddenly gone and all that was left was my invincibility.

The Selway Bitterroot Wilderness of Montana was my friend’s and my destination for an elk hunting trip. We got a late start that day and so by the time we saddled and packed our horses for the 12-mile trip we did not arrive in camp until after dark. Everything we needed was on the pack horse except common sense. We could hear elk bugling and raising quite a commotion at the far end of the lake. We set up camp and arose early the next morning hoping to get a jump on the elk before they left the area. The elk winded us and eluded us contrary to our best laid plans. The next plan for the evening was to lay in our sleeping bags in the tall grass to be in position for the elk the following morning. As we lay in our bags during the night, approximately 500 yards away we heard the horses making a lot of noise causing us to believe they had caught sight of some kind of an animal. As I was just beginning to get up to check on them, they became quiet which led us to believe that they possibly caught the smell of a bear somewhere in the vicinity of camp and lost it almost as fast. We rose early the next morning, the elk came close but were winded once again and left the range of our bows. When we returned to camp later the next morning it became obvious that a bear had been in camp and had strewn our supplies and anything it could everywhere. So was born my brilliant idea of how I was going to get this bear. (RULE #1 NEVER HUNT WITH SOMEONE WHO THINKS HE IS INVINCIBLE) The tent was facing the campfire approximately 10-12 feet away.

There was also a log bench within 3-5 feet of the tent opening. My idea was to fix the greasiest meal we could possibly eat and leave the leftovers for the bear on the bench next to the tent opening. (RULE #2 NEVER BAIT A BEAR NEXT TO YOUR TENT UNLESS YOU WANT A SLEEPING PARTNER) Bears tend to be creatures of habit so we figured he would be in camp about the same time as the night before. We lay in wait for our visitor who did show up close to midnight. We laid in our sleeping bags facing the opening of the tent, I had my 357 magnum pistol ready and waiting while my hunting partner had the flap of the tent in one hand and a flashlight in the other. We surmised that the bear would come to the plate of food, and my hunting partner would turn the flashlight on him and I would get my close range impossible to miss shot. As the bear approached we could hear the sounds of a hungry predator. All at once he was directly in front of our tent. Of course it was pitch black outside and I could not see my hand in front of my face, and as I prepared to give my partner the NOW! the bear spooked and ran away. (RULE#3 NEVER SHOOT A BEAR IN THE DARK) I knew the bear could not resist a greasy meal, I knew he would return shortly. My partner stayed in place ready to shine the flashlight at my command.

The bear returned but we had no idea where he was because of pitch black conditions. It began to get very scary at this point and I realized that my invincibility was at stake. The bear was right in front of us somewhere enjoying his meal. As I said NOW! I immediately faced two huge eyeballs staring me in the face. I do not know who was more frightened me or the bear. I took a quick shot at what I thought was right between his eyes, but he immediately ran off into the darkness. We went out with flashlights to see if the bear was wounded and found a blood trail. (RULE #4 NEVER TRACK A WOUNDED BEAR WITH FLASHLIGHTS IN THE DARK) The bear had eluded us. The next morning as we tracked the bear, the blood trail eventually disappeared.

As I have grown older I realize how stupid I was during this experience. However, it is a memory that I will never forget. Hopefully you will not think you are invincible as I once did and use your common sense and whatever training you may have to make your hunt a successful one. It could easily have turned out that I was a successful hunt for the bear.

Written by: Sherry L. DellaSilva[]